Electronics for Magicians by Jon Thompson

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Tom Frame
Posts: 1057
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Del Ray
Location: San Francisco

Electronics for Magicians by Jon Thompson

Postby Tom Frame » February 6th, 2011, 4:05 pm

Electronics for Magicians (Ebook) by Jon Thompson $13.58
65 pages, 96 photos, illustrations and schematics
Available at: http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/elect ... ns/5191425

I really dig sneaky electronic devices and the wondrous effects that they can produce. I recently finished reading John Moehrings excellent book about my hero, Del Ray. Consequently, Ive been thinking a lot about these secret gizmos. Imagine my delight when I caught wind of this book by Jon Thompson.

This is an introductory course on how to build basic electronic modules for covert use in magic effects. It is designed for the DIY crowd. Youll need to buy a lot of inexpensive, easily obtainable stuff. Soldering and a fair amount of detailed work are involved.

Mr. Thompson writes well and does a very good job of teaching the material. The photos and illustrations are clear and indispensable.

The bulk of the book is devoted to descriptions of the functions of the components and instructions on how to assemble the hardware. This material provides you with the basic technical and conceptual foundations. After absorbing this information, youll be equipped to start thinking about how to apply the hardware to magic effects.

Ill describe the books contents in the form of a list that reads like a tweaker geeks receipt from Radio Shack.

In the components section, well pick up batteries, resistors, LEDs, switches, magnets, pager motors, capacitors, relays, transistors and a timer chip.

In the hardware aisle we find Veroboard, wire, grommets, heat-shrink tubing, jack plugs, sockets, glues, self-adhesive pads, elastic, Velcro, soldering guns, solder, de-soldering pumps, piece stands, face masks, files and tweezers (zircon-encrusted?).

We rush home with our goodies, ensconce ourselves in our basement bunker, start slashing away at things and fire up ye ole soldering gun.

The author teaches basic soldering techniques and describes how to solder the components to the Veroboard.

He describes the construction of switching assemblies incorporating a push switch, pressure switch, parallel switches and a dead mans handle.

We learn how to construct a single pulse module, a digital timer assembly and a module that converts a small current into a large current.

To house and protect our newly created gizmos, Mr. Thompson suggests using small, ABS plastic boxes. He describes how to modify these boxes to create a dual switch box and a power pack. Theyre sleek and smooth and sexy. I like them.

Indicator Wand: The author teaches how to construct an indicator wand that vibrates when the performer holds it held near an object with a magnet hidden in it. Youll never catch me using a wand. Not for a magic effect anyway. Besides, I suspect that the crowd will quickly conclude that the wand is doing the dirty work and theyll be right.

I do like Mr. Thompsons suggestion of wearing the thumper on your body. Where you choose to affix the thumper will probably tell you more about your own issues, kinks and proclivities than you are ready to accept. Be patient.

Paul Brook swaps the thumper for an LED unit and hides it in plain sight. This is a clever idea. I like it.

The 21CMM Device: The Moonlight Madness apparatus was described in Corindas Thirteen Steps to Mentalism and Annemanns Practical Mental Magic. The device allowed the performer to signal the content of a billet to his psychic assistant.

In Mr. Thompsons updated version, the bulky battery, bulky switch assembly and big, hot flashlight bulb have been replaced by tiny batteries, a tiny switch assembly and a cool, tiny LED. He offers a number of clever hiding places for the LED. This is a significant technical advance over the original apparatus. I like it.

The author briefly discusses basic binary coding for use in a two person code act.

The Haunted Torch: During a sance, the performer turns on a flashlight and places it on the table. At a creepily appropriate time, the flashlight turns off.

Mr. Thompson teaches the construction of this self-contained flashlight that, once turned on, will turn itself off after a preset period of time. The flashlight can be immediately picked up, turned off and on and it will work normally. I like it.

The author concludes the book by encouraging readers to scour electronics and hobby shops for products that can be cannibalized for all manner of RF, infrared and motion sensing devices, as well as servos, motors, electromagnets and microcomputers. I plan to do so.

Prior to reading this book, I knew zero about electronic components. After studying it, I feel confident that I can sit down, repeatedly burn myself and actually build these doohickeys! I commend Mr. Thompson for his ability to teach these concepts and techniques to a deaf, dumb and blind boy named Tommy.

"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

Geno Munari
Posts: 630
Joined: January 30th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Las Vegas/Del Mar, CA

Re: Electronics for Magicians by Jon Thompson

Postby Geno Munari » February 6th, 2011, 9:31 pm

Thanks Tom, I will buy this. Do you know if there are any Ham Radio operators on this forum?

Posts: 20
Joined: May 8th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: Electronics for Magicians by Jon Thompson

Postby Ted » February 7th, 2011, 8:23 am

I agree that this is an inspirational book. Even if you don't want to pick up a soldering iron, you'll come up with some ideas for a gadget and maybe you can ask someone to make the device(s) for you. I know Jon does bespoke work, so that's another option available for the solder-shy.

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